Epidural Stimulation applies a continuous electrical current to specific locations on the posterior structures of the lumbar spinal cord. The surgically implanted device sits over the spinal cord protective coating, where it is able to stimulate locomotor-like activity. Epidural Stimulation can be offered to patients with both incomplete and complete injuries.
Over an extensive 30-40 days of rehabilitation in our ward the patient and their brain, muscles and nerves ‘learn’ how to consistently create voluntary movements whilst the device is activated. This is a very delicate process and requires a lot of experience by the therapist. We call this process “Mapping”. The more experienced and knowledgeable the Mapping Therapist is, the quicker progress can be achieved and the more gains the patient can get. Equally important is the support after patients departure. We make sure the patient learns how to use the device and its remote on its own, pre-install tailored exercise programmes and continue to be available at all times to discuss and implement new programmes.
The Central Pattern Generator (CPG) is a control centre inside the spinal cord that interprets sensory information. Epidural stimulation activates the spinal cord nerve circuitry with impulses that would ordinarily originate in the brain.
The breakthrough treatment for spinal cord injury is centered around the epidural stimulation device.
The device activates the para-sympathetic nervous system, which is not the original route via which brain connects with the limbs, so even if the spinal cord is fully injured, there is still an alternative route to connect to the lower parts of the body.
The safety profile of the procedure is good in that there are many decades of experience in surgically implanting electrical devices( e.g. heart pacemakers or spinal pain management devices) with very few complications.
Once implanted, the patient learns how to control the device and the resulting limb movements.
Andrew Valadka, a young high-schooler from Chicago, USA, was left with a C6 Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) following an accident whilst playing football back in the United States. He contacted Unique Access to receive the Epidural Stimulation treatment in late July 2017. Only a few days after his Epidural Stimulation Surgery, Andrew is standing up by himself with the help of parallel bars and is confident he will keep improving fast. His mum is also “very very happy” with the results of the surgery.
Andrew Bell, T5 Complete Spinal Cord Injury Patient from the UK, underwent the Epidural Stimulation Surgery with Unique Access Medical in Bangkok and has had great improvements since the surgery. He recently returned to Bangkok for more Rehabilitation and for this video interview, Andrew took a big leap of success as he stands up with his walker and is able to take assisted steps, making progress towards walking again. He continues to be an inspiration to the world
• Whilst the stimulator is activated, hips, legs, knees, ankles and toes can be moved voluntarily
• Body temperature regulation is improved • Blood pressure stabilized
• Provided the stimulator is activated, ability to bear own weight with no support (Depending on injury location) • Muscle mass growth
• Fatigue is reduced • Activity increases • Motivation increases
• Bowel, bladder and reproductive organs functions are improved
• Potential Improvements seen in patients after implantation